In house in a wood, Ada and her father live peacefully, tending to their garden and the wildlife in it. They are not human though. Ada was made by her father from the Ground, a unique patch of earth with birthing and healing properties.They spend their days healing the local human folk – named Cures - who visit them. This is the story of what happens when Ada embarks on a relationship with a local Cure named Samson, and is forced to choose between her old life with her father, and a new one with her human lover. Her decision will uproot the town – and the Ground itself – for ever.
This seethingly assured Irish debut infuses magic realism with critical and feminist theory, but the generous dose of horror movie imagery brings a left-field project firmly into the literary mainstream. Like all the best horror, it’s an impressive balancing act between judicious withholding and unnerving reveals: you don’t want to go into it knowing too much ...Perhaps the book Follow Me to Ground is most kin to is Han Kang’s The Vegetarian, another tale of transformation that is fascinated both by female flesh and by what it might mean to escape it. Bodies are everywhere in Rainsford’s novel: seeping, dribbling, twitching, staining the furniture and the ever-growing mounds of dirty linen ...There is much body horror here, as well as other staples of the genre: the fear of being buried alive and of the undead, the monstrosity of psychic possession ... But there is wonder and tenderness, too. One of the most striking effects of the book comes from the fact that, far from attacking the non-human others, the locals accommodate themselves to their impossible presence: their various voices, interspersed with Ada’s narrative, add pace and variety ... Follow Me to Ground is odd and muscular enough to resist easy interpretation. It can be read on many levels – as a fable about female yearning, or about containment and contagion; as an investigation into toxic relationships or a puzzle over the borders between human and non-human – but it is always singularly and entirely itself.
There’s something inherently uncanny about anything or anyone that is almost human but not quite. It’s this uncanniness that runs through Dublin-based author Sue Rainsford’s first novel Follow Me To Ground, a wildly imaginative exploration of desire, fear and what it means to be a person ... The concept of the Ground, with its uncanny guardians and the people who visit them, is a brilliantly original and unsettling one, illuminated by Rainsford’s sparsely lyrical prose ... Rainsford is particularly good at conveying a sense of unhuman personhood. Ada doesn’t think or feel like a human being, but does think and feel strongly, aware of her own difference and isolation ... Her determination to control her own destiny is both beautiful and terrifying, two words that also describe this promising literary debut.
Follow Me to Ground mixes elements of horror, fairytale and myth to deliver a compelling, odd beast of a book ... Rainsford is not concerned with plot – she deliberately obscures her narrative at key points, preferring instead to immerse the reader in Ada’s strange world of death and desire ... Ada may be non-human, but Rainsford’s lyrical, hypnotic prose allows us to relate to her with ease. There is a furtiveness in the book, both in story and style, with Rainsford artfully bringing the reader along even as Ada’s desires grow ever more dangerous ... Her novel recalls Alexandra Kleeman’s debut You Too Can Have a Body Like Mine, another nightmarish, cerebral examination of the female body ... Readers looking for a conventional plot or hand-holding through a murky world will be disappointed. In her pursuit of her desires, Ada embarks on a kind of madcap eugenics scheme that weaves and wanders, and frequently deceives, but we keep reading, following after her, into the ground.